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Smallpox vaccination exercise improves public safety

Health care workers from across mid-Missouri said they were more prepared for an unexpected threat thanks to a daylong clinic exercise. (Mark Slavit/KRCG 13)

Health care workers from across mid-Missouri said they were more prepared Friday for an unexpected threat thanks to a daylong clinic exercise.

Organizers said the training kept the public safer from an outbreak of disease.

A mass vaccination clinic exercise at Columbia’s Memorial Baptist Church pretended a smallpox outbreak infected the public.

Event Organizer Rebecca Estes said, “The last thing we want people to do, when a threat comes that no one is expecting, is to feel like there isn’t a plan. It is really important to know how to respond to it so we can give the public a sense of calm.”

Other unexpected threats include the H1N1 influenza virus and bioterrorism attacks. Nearly 200 people learned new skills during the daylong exercise. Lincoln University nursing students Britney Dear and Megan Prenger said they learned a lot from the exercise.

Dear said, “It’s good to be prepared for a disaster or an emergency just so we as nurses and public health workers know how to combat situations like that.”

Prenger said, “I learned there are many different steps to go through. The vaccine itself, you get 15 little pokes. I did not know that.”

Public health agencies from Callaway, Cole, Boone, Montgomery, Osage, Miller, Audrain, Morgan, Cooper, Howard, Gasconade and Camden counties attended the exercise.

Staff from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the State Emergency Management Agency were on site to observe the exercise.

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